tv Journalist and Author Bob Woodward CSPAN December 9, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EST
it is on the shoulders of our parents, your parents that we all stand. congratulations, marco. >> thank you. [applause] >> would try to find something relatively unique. you can all take your seats. last year, we try to give him something unique. maybe we should give him a box of foot off. i'm getting rid of stuff becausei said, why don't you let me come over and see? last year, i found a football
that i had never seen before. i was blown away that i could not place this one football. it was a jack kemp signature football. every nfl football has the signature of the commissioner engraved into it. i said, mom, you cannot give this away. what are you thinking? this is the perfect award for paul. paul, i hope you have not given it away. >> not at all. >> ok. pat and bob had graciously let us use their space. as we are moving offices, i have come upon some newspapers. where are you, sharon?
god bless sharon from alaska. [applause] for those of you who are not clapping, the reason people are clapping is because sharon kept jack kemp out of a lot of trouble. [applause] i think sharon packed away these newspapers from 1980 one and heard marco mentioned the economic recovery act of 1981. there is a story behind it. the kemp history has collected much of the story, but "the washington post" saved by sharon alaska -- i got incredibly distracted by all of the cool stuff. i come upon these stories. one is from july 25, 1981.
about president reagan going on to the hill to pitch his bill. the next is from july 30, 1981. this feels kind of awkward. there are two stories here. both of them have dad's picture on the front. the second expands the story of how the legislation passed. some of you know the history better than me, but asked legislation is not always pretty. and this country when we have public servants like paul ryan and marco rubio and like president obama, both democrats and republicans who are serving us, it is incumbent upon us to come beside them and support them as bike everything else. we make them better when we
make our views clear. you must do that. this tells a story of the way great legislation impacts not only the country, but the world. i'm sure there is a lot more to the story. senator rubio, this is not only an award to you for your great work, but also to remind you of what is possible, which you just described. we thank you for your leadership, your action, and your work. and we thank your wife for sharing you with this country. [applause] fee thank you.
you can put up their. you do not need to take it back to your seat. you figure out a way to get it to you. [laughter] what an evening. thank you for being a part of >> president obama troubles monday to discuss the tax cuts. our live coverage begins at approximately 1:35 eastern here on c-span. >> "washington post" reporter said last week that congress should not postpone the hard decisions such as dealing with the time and stuff -- entitlements such as last year. he joins mike allen at a breakfast discussion on the so- called fiscal cliff discussions. this is about 25 minutes.
[applause] >> good morning, sunshine. welcome to the political breakfast. thank you for getting up so early. we are pleased to have an amazing double-header. if we will speak to senator rubio who last night give a big speech -- one of the first formal speeches looking ahead at the future of the republican party. we will talk about that. the amazing bob woodward who has a fantastic book out on the last grand bargain negotiations is going to be joining us in just one second. first, welcome all of the people in a live-stream planned. we'll be taking your questions. tweet us.
and to c-span. welcome to the others were watching. we appreciate bank of america for making these conversations possible. we are very, very excited to bring these substantive conversations about the most important issues around washington to do things to bank of america. thank you, john. so, you may have gotten cards. the thinking about what you're going to ask. without further ado, the spring and bob woodward. mr. woodward. [applause] >> thank you. >> i have been saving seats with my notes. i'll pick those up. >> which is your chair? >> you get the -- chair. >> ok, thank you. >> the price and politics, which is becoming a best-seller,
looked at the last cliff over the previous grand bargain that did not quite get over the finish line. what does that teach us about the current cliff negotiations. >> well, it is groundhog day. the question is, who is playing bill murray? it is such a repetition. it is the same players. the same seats at the table. the same doctrines. where this goes, i think anyone who thinks they know is wrong. as you know, the talk about the fiscal cliff. some people say it is a slope. some people say it is a bungee jump. some people say it is a skateboard trek. it is going to go down and then up and and so forth. the bottom line, i think it is no way to govern. it is a giant mistake to have
all of this in a pool of ambiguity. as i understand it, now, you would know more, it truly is a stalemate. they are not talking. >> you point out, it is the same players. i think you will agree the players that matter most are the president, speaker finger. what we know about their personal -- speaker john boehner. what we know about their personal relationship right now? >> it started out last year when they were working on the debt ceiling. it was called the merlo and the correct meeting. in other words, john boehner would have a merlo and obama would chu nicolette's. -- chew nicorettes. and they had iced tea for obama. of course, john boehner had his
cigarette and put his cigarette in the ash tray away. they have not closed the deal. -- close to the deal on the personal relations. i think that is a shame. somebody said, instead of sponsoring a breakfast you should sponsor a weekly dinner between president obama and speaker john boehner and everyone would agree to pay for it and let them just talk and get to know each other. it is not -- [indiscernible] >> ok. when john was the fbi spokesman, he was often not helpful, but
you could always get him on the phone and if you had a good story he could confirm it by laughing. a deep laugh men you were on the right track. no laughter meant, no. >> it looks like the tide is very much going against republicans. do you agree with that? >> welle, no, quite frankly. if i think in the short, political term, yes. the polling shows republicans will be blamed. but remember, this is the obama- era. it will go down as his economy. i ask people, who was speaker of the house during the great depression when roosevelt was president. i will give $100 to anyone who can name to the speaker of the house was in that critical first 100 days.
henry thomas are rainey. there is a name that is in the history books. the point of being that speaker bay near -- speaker john boehner is an important player, but it is obama's job to lead and the fine. if there are negative consequences here, it will be in the obama-era that things did not get fixed. who is the australian finance minister who says we are deep -- the united states is one of budget deal away from being a great country. and there are a lot of people in business who think we are poised to do some really good things in the global economy, the united states is. but if we cannot untangle this mess, it is not going to happen. >> you know more about the inner
workings of our government than any living person. every single administration of our lifetime, you have been behind the scenes. you have seen national security notes. >> off what nonsense you are talking. [laughter] >> are you now optimistic or pessimistic about the way the australian minister posed the question. >> you know, in the end i think things will be fixed. the question is, when and what price it do you pay on that road to getting it fixed? i do not think that you govern by playing chicken. i say that to democrats, republicans, the white house, but congress. they should sit down and really talk this out. the old joe biden way when he would deal with mitch mcconnell just a couple of years ago.
extend the bush tax cuts in the white house they called by in the mcconnell-whisper. in the horse whisperer, one for you, one for me. that is hard. that is the way you make a deal. >> at this moment, does it look to you like we have a deal by christmas eve, new year's eve, for do we go over the cliff? >> who knows? if somebody who thinks they know is only guessing. maybe there is some strategy in the white house that, you know, by a certain date they will fort something out. >> we always start the morning with the papers. mr. woodward is the assistant managing editor of "the which sayspost wh"
the stock markets are convinced that the trauma will work out. at the -- "the financial times" has the different headline. which of these is more true? [laughter] >> on wall street, they live in the zone of a on peaceful coexistence of optimism and pessimism. you can speak to somebody in the investment world on wall street and in the morning they are optimistic and in the afternoon they are pessimistic. so, i think probably -- you do not know. both papers have great reporters. they are talking to people about that and so forth. i would go with "the post" in the short run because look at what the markets have done. >> when you talk to people behind the scenes, off camera,
when your tape recorder is off, what do they tell you about what is likely to happen? >> i think there is a lot of real worry. >> worry about what? >> worry we are not going to fix that -- you know. what is the bottom line here? the fiscal house of the united states government, the financial house is not in order. it is in disarray in a way that no one would permit in their business. bank of america, right, john? they would never permit this kind of in coherence in what the policy is. what they are going to take in. >> a question about this topic. based on your reporting, how far do you think the president is willing to go on entitlements? >> when i talked to the president in the summer on this, he acknowledged, quite openly, if it was bad politics for he
and democrats to say we are going to cut medicare beneficiaries. he then went on, i think, in the end, you cannot be president and cannot be a realist. he said it is untenable to not help them because they are driving the budget deficit. the whole entitlement issue has been real -- of this problem. the taxing issue, yes. the pyrotechnics. there is the struggle between the republican and democratic view. but all of the numbers people know that it is the entitlement issue. if you can come up with some sort of fixed trajectory to make it somehow stable, that would be -- you have something from
the book. >> your books are all ultimately about power. how it is used, squandered, built, and so the subtext of these events are about how life works, how washington works. if my favorite sentence in "the price of politics" is, when you need friends, it is too late to make them. tell us about what you have learned. what is the 100-your lesson for how that unravel? >> you mean, last year about what happened? they found a way to postpone everything. again, they can postpone lots of the problems. but postponement is the theme, that cliche, kicking the can down the road. i do not know what of the can is. it is postponing hard decisions. it is too bad. they should make the hard
decisions. i think the hypothetical weekly dinner between the president and john boehner, if that occurred, or if it is now a golf game, that would be such a good and fruitful thing because, look. in trying to write particularly about presidents, you are driving at the question. who is barack obama? do you think we fully understand who barack obama is? do you? >> if anybody does, you would. >> no. i am asking do you? [laughter] >> of course. we want to know more about the people we cover. >> do you think there is -- do you find elements of mystery or uncertainty in his actions and personality? >> of course. it is fascinating. >> may be in him, you covered
george w. bush and wrote four books on him. there was not a lot of mystery about what bush felt. >> he was a gut player. >> yes. as he said, his job was to put some calcium in the spine. >> but i think obama is a little bit more of an uncertain figure. quite frankly, i think when he writes his own autobiography, about his time as president and there is more excavation of all of this, we are going to discover that he is working it out as he plays of the game. and as somebody with a little bit more experience, under their belt might not be doing that. >> some of the comments you made about president obama, including what you just said, there seems to be a subtext that you are a little bit disappointed or under whelmed.
>> i would not say disappointed. it goes to the question about what is our job in the news media. our job is not to be cheerleaders. politico specializes in this. not in a hostile, negative way. you are asking and raising questions. that is the job. look. what has happened in the last many decades in the presidency? increasing concentration of power. there is the catastrophe in japan and the united states immediately wants to say, what is the president doing? what is the policy? what is the action? 30 years ago, that would have been one of the questions, but
it would not be a central question. it is amazing what they can do. i think obama has more power than bush had, for instance. >> and yet, i believe it is your view that we know less about the president, less about the white house than ever. why is that and why is it our fault? >> it is, in part, our fault. i think the messengers and the white house get better and better and more skillful. it is a barrier, often. knows how long i spent breaking down that logjam in the white house, saying it, i am doing this book. i have these stories. i have these memos. and they would say, ok, give us the question. it is not something where they are standing there on pennsylvania avenue saying to reporters, come on. we are dying to have you hold us accountable for what we are
doing. >> if you do manage to break people down. but what if the white house said, we are going to shut a baba down. no access, no memos. what would you do? >> i would probably do another book like john belushi or something like that. you know, i do not know. i think that -- look. there is a sense in every white house, whether they are misguided or not, that they are doing a good a job, that they are in -- that they are sincere and our job is to listen. i think the key is to take them as seriously as they take themselves. when i sent to bush or obama along memos saying this is what i want to talk about, they look at it and say, somebody has worked one year on how i am doing my job, if of course i am going to respond. >> that is a very unusual
technique. if you laid out one -- you laid out hundreds of questions for bush. what did you say it to obama before the price of politics? >> about a single space, one dozen page memo with the key points and what i understood happened. much of it was new. i think somebody is going to look at that. i sent george bush a 21-page memo on one of the books, i remember. someone said, you finally have lost your mind. there is no evidence in push's -- in bush's biography that he ever read anything more than 21 pages. he read it right away. condi rice called me and said, you are doing these articles in
this book. she said the president will see you tomorrow. >> has what you've done gotten easier or more difficult? >> that is a good question. no. i think it is more difficult because the message managers are better. they have the staffs. they look at it aggressively. i am older. i have less energy. that makes it harder. >> tell us something about the obama white house that we do not know. >> what does obama think of mitt romney? what does he really think? i think he feels that romney is incompetence because he did not run a better campaign. i suspect that one of the teams in all of the coverage of the campaign is going to be that romney never found a way to --
either the method or the theme of how to run against obama were as they thought it was going to be easy. >> we are about to get the hook here -- the penultimate question. what is the one thing you would like to know about president obama that you do not? >> i did ask him this. i did not put it in the book. he keeps a diary. i would like to have access. [laughter] he said, i said, do you keep a diary? he said, yes, but not on all of these details. i said the outcome on -- i said, come on. let's see it. i am sure he will write a really interesting them more. >> what did he tell you about the diary? >> that it existed.
no detail. he did not offer me to read from it or anything like that. you know, is it dictated? is it written? you know, ronald reagan kept a diary that was secret. george w. -- now they published all of reagan's diaries. who would have stopped? -- who would have thought? certainly, if obama has a bigger sense of history and literature and writing from his own books and so forth, which are very, kind of, address the question -- what is the inner life i am living? it is very interesting. before he became president, is is really interesting now. a description of that inner life will be something if it is candid. so, let's -- i am going to put
it in the freedom of information act request for obama's diary. maybe the diary itself is a gsa notebook or something like that so they cannot, exception, obviously, if not going to get it. i worry what we do not know. i am sure it is larger than what we do think we know. >> about? >> about -- anything. him. what he is doing. what is driving him. who is barack obama? >> one question -- about to get the hook. we will do this very quickly. you were talking about -- the president is a man of mystery. if you are a little bit of a man of mystery to yourself. everyone in this room is a fascinated about how you do what you do. one time he told me about how you reached a general who would not take your call. >> if would not take the call.
would not be interviewed. it was a key general on the fourth george bush book. i found out where he lived. what is the perfect time to go visit a general at night? 8:15 because they would have eaten if they are home. there are a couple of extra hours. so, i knocked on the door without an appointment. if he opened the door and looked at me. can i quote him? he looked at me and said, are you still doing this shit? >> bob woodward, thank you so much. [laughter] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> explores the history and the literary culture this weekend on book andtv and american history tv on c-span3. tv on c-span3.